I’m a Houseplant ‘Expert’ and I Can’t Keep These 5 Houseplants Alive for the Life of Me

Houseplants are more than just a hobby or a part of my home decor. I mean, I literally make a living writing about them (best job ever!). So when it comes to caring for houseplants, I take pride in my collection of happy and healthy plants. I also know a lot about houseplant care (like a lot) due to hours upon hours spent researching various different plants and their needs, along with my own personal experience. Name a houseplant and I can probably tell you the light, soil type, and watering that it needs to stay happy. However, there are a few plants that I cannot keep alive in my house, no matter how hard I try – and some of them are even considered low-maintenance and easy to grow!

When people hear how many plants I have, or see pictures of my happy plants I often hear comments like “I’m a plant murderer,” or “I have killed so many [x type] of plants!”. So the point of this post (on top of poking fun at myself) is really to show you that most people have at least a few plants they just don’t get along with. The key to growing happy and healthy houseplants is to find the plants that thrive with the kind of care you can provide. Evidently, this will take some trial and error. So if you’re interested in growing houseplants but feel defeated from past “failures,” all I can say is that we’ve all been there before, and every houseplant ‘expert’ or ‘influencer’ that you see online has killed their fair share of plants along the way…trust me.

Without further ado, here is my list of 5 houseplants that I just can’t seem to keep alive.

RELATED: The Top 10 Hard-to-Kill Houseplants


Orchids are number one on the list and this isn’t an accident. Given the right conditions, orchids can be kept for years like regular houseplants and will rebloom once a year. I have tried several times to keep an orchid alive, and every single time without fail I end up killing it.

They seem to die a somewhat slow death, in that I think everything is fine for a while and then one day realize all the roots have rotted off and the plant is, in fact, dead. I think my problem is with the amount of humidity I have available, along with improper light conditions in the past. I also can’t quite seem to figure out the watering for these guys, particularly because they like to live in orchid bark mix with a ‘soak and dry’ type watering method. In any case, I’ve officially added orchids to the no-go list and I won’t be trying again…at least for a while anyways.

Photo by Z S on Unsplash


Ferns don’t die a slow death in my house, they die an extremely fast and hard death…every time. I’ve tried a few different varieties, all to no avail. Silly me even tried a Maidenhair Fern last year, which was honestly just depressing. I’m almost certain the issue has to do with humidity. Ferns are humidity-loving houseplants that definitely need above-average humidity levels in order to survive. Moving forward, if it’s a fern it’s a nope from me.

String of Hearts

This one upsets me. It’s my dream to have a large and luscious string of hearts plant, but they always end up dying on me and I’m honestly not really sure why. I can’t seem to get the lighting quite right for them, and somehow seem to underwater them and overwater them at the same time? I actually currently have a small variegated string of hearts growing in my IKEA greenhouse cabinet that is still hanging in there, but I’m afraid to even look at it wrong in case it decides to throw in the towel and give up completely.

Photo by Darren Richardson on Unsplash


This one is probably unsurprising to anyone who has ever tried to grow a Calathea in their home before. These plants can be incredibly hard to keep alive. Similar to ferns, they need a lot of humidity, regular watering, and the *perfect* amount of indirect sunlight lest they throw a fit and up-and-die on you. Calatheas aren’t really my kind of plant anyways, but I was definitely disappointed when a beautiful Calathea orbifolia that I bought only lasted a couple of weeks before I eventually had to get rid of it. Ah well, maybe one day I’ll try again but for now I think I’ll save my money and stick to the plants I actually get along with.

Spider Plants

I’m honestly confused by this one. Spider plants are consistently listed as beginner plants that are super easy to care for, yet I haven’t been able to keep one alive successfully. I’m not that upset about this, as I don’t love the look of them anyways and my cats are obsessed with eating the leaves, but I’m just…confused. I probably won’t try growing these plants again, I just don’t really care to – but someone just please tell me they also struggle with spider plants so I don’t feel so weird about this one.